I would gladly wave goodbye to the hysteria generated over Ken Clarke’s refusal to play catchphrase, but can only hope (rather than believe) this to be the case. ‘Rape is rape’ is one of those peculiar expressions that manage to be both true and false; it is everything to everyone, a statement intended to end rather than open a conversation.
Yet if we believe in rehabilitation, as I do, we need to discuss what that might mean in practice. Is recovery possible for those who have committed the most heinous of crimes? Can reduced sentences for those who plead guilty form any part? What are the exceptions? Without presuming to answer, these are all valid questions.
Ken Clarke is what some might regard as a rare breed, a pro-European liberal reformer of the Conservative party; it’s a miracle he’s survived so long. He came unstuck for eschewing the usual platitudes, others will take note and avoid making the same mistake, probably they’ll avoid the subject altogether.